Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Readings, Mostly About Egypt

Achingly sincere reflections. Beautiful writing, neither angry or hopeless... just tired and a little sad. This is a snip. Go to the link for the rest. Be sure to read some of the comments.
Everything was possible
Omar Robert Hamilton

A real, ideological alliance was never possible. But a tactical, practical one might just have worked. But rather than work together each party repeatedly met with and made deals with the army, consistently placing the generals in the strongest tactical position. Everyone was to blame. The old, moneyed liberals who presented themselves as allied with the revolution lived in relative comfort, had historical ties to the army and routinely demonized the Brotherhood. The revolutionaries’ disdain for high politics meant that they effectively removed themselves from the equation. The Salafis were only ever interested in the deal that brought them the most power and their prized ministries – education and health. And the Brotherhood, long-enamored of their ability to put numbers on the street, was arrogant and duplicitous from the beginning – making serious electoral promises to the liberals, lobbying America and offering the army immunity and oversight of itself.
When in power, Mohamed Morsi refused to take on the Ministry of Interior. Instead, he appointed Ahmad Gamal al-Din who, as chief of the Assiut Security Directorate almost killed off the revolution there in January 2011 and then was the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' chief of General Security at the time of the Moahmed Mahmoud and the ultras massacres.

The main enemy of the people has always been the security state – the police and the army. We will never get anywhere until they are dismantled entirely. There was a moment when that could have been achieved, when a civilian state could have been built. But Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood would have had to choose the challenge of working with the disparate and bickering forces of the left and the liberals over dealing with the organized certainty of the military.

Everybody else has read this and recommended it. I suppose it's de regueur you read it, too. Might as well get it out of the way. I was unsurprised and underwhelmed. Graham and McCain trying to reason with Sissi is a contemporary illustration of Truman's timeless retort when told Eisenhower would run for president: "Why, this fellow don't know any more about politics than a pig knows about Sunday."

Gareth Porter points to a factoid that will be overlooked by most readers and pushed into denial by others.
"The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid."

Extra points for the Turkish leader. Best one-liner of the day.
“The Al-Fath Mosque is under siege. People’s place of worship is innocent. They have burned, destroyed our mosques in Syria and in Egypt. Either Bashar or Sisi, there is no difference between them. There is no salvation with oppression,” Erdoğan said during a defiant speech in the northwestern province of Bursa Aug. 17 where he attended the launching ceremony of an urban renovation project.  
Erdoğan also slammed Egyptian officials for describing supporters of toppled President Mohamed Morsi as “terrorists.” 
“People are saying ‘we ask for our vote to be honored.’ But there are those calling them terrorists. But I am saying that state terrorism is currently underway in Egypt,” Erdoğan said.

“There are currently two paths in Egypt: Those who follow the Pharaoh, and those who follow Moses,” he added.

Erdoğan condemned the attacks against worship places, including churches, but said that supporters of Muslim Brotherhood where mostly protecting those places from being vandalized. 
He also argued that Turkey could be next for "those who were stirring unrest" in Egypt.

The tension between the countries peaked as Turkey recalled its ambassador in Cairo, sparking a reciprocal move by Egypt. Egypt’s Ankara envoy, Abdurrahman Selahaddin, had urged Turkey not to side solely with the Muslim Brotherhood and respect “all Egyptians.”

Interesting but curious piece. A bit late to go back and get it right...
"I don’t accept that this is a coup,” he replied firmly. “The military could never have done this alone, without those massive demonstrations by the people. The Army came to prevent a civil war, and to support the people.” He was echoing one of many popular refrains among backers of the military: the takeover in July was not a coup; Morsi was leading Egypt into ruin and the destitution of Islamic law; the Brotherhood is a group of terrorists who should never have been let into public life—and now deserve the punishments coming to them. “The loss of life is tragic,” he said of the sit-in attacks. “But I’m sorry to say that the Muslim Brotherhood invited this. They wanted all of the time for this to happen.” He added, “I don’t accept that there are non-extremist elements to the Muslim Brotherhood.” 
One of the most striking developments in Egypt over the past few months has been the apparent transformation of liberals like Aboul-Ghar—those who were supposed to be advocates of free expression and religious tolerance, but also of political pluralism and the restraint of state violence—into something that more closely resembled authoritarians, at least where the Brotherhood was concerned, and believers in the benevolence of military rule. In reality, it’s a phenomenon that has spread across the political spectrum. Egyptians watch state-run television networks that report exclusively on the supposed acts of terrorism, ignoring the disproportionate force of the police and military. Not a single major Egyptian newspaper showed a picture of a Brotherhood victim on its front page on Thursday.

Hands down, this is the smartest commentary of the morning by one of the best-informed people on stage.  
No parsing from me.
This one's a must-read. 

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